Friday, 24 January 2014

Lies, damned lies and ..... what's the point?

Anyone pointing out that the data released by the Treasury showing pay is actually increasing in real terms is a crock of &*£" is missing the point. The reality is that average pay growth has and continues to lag inflation. The latest (as at 22/1/14) available ONS data shows the average weekly wage (including bonuses) grew at 0.9% per annum (1.2% private sector, 0.2% public sector) vs consumer price inflation of c.2% i.e. real pay, after taking the average increase in the cost of things into account, is continuing to fall, this time by 1%. That is the reality; pay growth continues to lag prices ergo yer average punter is worse off today than he was a year ago (and the year before that and the year before that one). 

But, that's beside the point. Googling over to the Daily Telegraph/Torygraph, Express and and Mail to see what they had to say about the special Treasury release given they’re quite the ones for supporting the current austerity regieme, as of 18.54, Friday, today, none of them were saying anything.

Now, chew on that for a second. And a few seconds more. So the claims and data taxpayer funded government departments are making and issuing currently appear too implausible, too readily contradicted by easily available facts for even the Tory press to actually run with. By contrast, they're not too implausible for the BBC i.e. the BBC now appears less sane/more right wing than the Daily Mail when it comes to the economy.

But, that's still besides the point, which is this; Labour have been scoring political points by going on about the cost of living crisis. This Treasury release muddies the waters, handing every Tory guest on Newsnight, the Today programme etc., for the next however long a time-wasting peg on which to hang their prejudices about the consequences of the current ConDem lot’s economic policies for the majority of people in Britain. FTSE 100 executive pay packages growing at 14% per annum? Ahh, but the Treasury release says its actually only the top 10% that have seen their pay lag inflation. The number of food banks is up? Ahhh, but pay is now growing in real terms according to the latest Treasury figures. And so on.

This release is all about turning the grinding, real terms pay cuts millions of people continue to contend with into a distracting he-said, she-said political debate. Oh and factually its also just wrong, but due to the BBC approach to avoiding charges of bias - see climate change reporting fer instance - of presenting opposing views even when one is garbage, it could well continue to be presented as being in some way credible.

P.S.  Click here for a neat demolition of the claims and here for someone pointing out its actually quite hard to get hold of the Treasury release to check the methodology and numbers. Funnily enough, the story - and associated headline - is suddenly getting a lot less prominence on the BBC website. The whole thing feels increasingly like something out of "The Thick of It"; bright young thing twists numbers into supporting the party line, party press officer gets the BBC to do a big splash, a growing number of people say WTF? and allova sudden - move along now nothing to see here - the actual story is the Prime Minister's Davos speech.

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